Friday, November 14, 2008

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Survivor Tree at the Oklahoma City National Memorial

The bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City remains the worst act of domestic terrorism in United States history. On April 19, 1995, 168 people, including 19 children, were murdered by a bomber who parked a truck bomb by the building. The site of the Murrah building is now the Oklahoma City National Memorial site, containing a reflecting pool, chairs representing the victims, and other artifacts. I had not been to the site since before the memorial was completed, until I stopped by for a few moments last Tuesday.

The perimeter of the site still has sections of chain link fence where people brought tokens of remembrance of the victims to the site. The picture below is

Chain link fence and items left by mourners at the Murrah site

Each end of the memorial contains a large gateway with the time of 9:01 on one, and 9:03 on the other, representing the moments in time just before and after the blast occurred. The reflecting pool is between them, and the field of chairs to the south side of the pool. The chairs for the children are smaller in size than the ones for the adults killed by the blast.

The Field of Chairs

Another view of the chairs

In what became an iconic image of the tragedy, the picture below was taken by a worker downtown who saw Oklahoma City fireman Chris Fields cradling the little dying Baylee Almon on the day after her first birthday. Below that famous photo is the one I took of Baylee's chair.

Chris Fields and Baylee Almon

Baylee's chair at the Oklahoma City National Memorial

It was a cool, calm day Tuesday, giving the reflecting pool a perfect image of its surroundings.

Reflecting pool at the Oklahoma City National Memorial

The 9:03 gate at the Oklahoma City National Memorial

A church across the street from the memorial site erected the statue below called "Jesus Wept". While I suppose it gives comfort to some, it only reinforces to me just how irrational religion can be. If Jesus is so powerful, why is he standing there, turned away, hiding his eyes and crying at the site of these needless deaths? Why didn't he cause McVeigh's bomb to simply not go off? Why did the truck just fail to start that fateful morning? No, instead, Jesus stands there doing nothing but hiding his eyes and crying at the place where he supposedly could have stopped this from ever happening in the first place.

Too late to cry now

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